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Baker County teen encounters accused rapist days before attack

17-year-old says suspect armed with machete laughed as he eyed her

BAKER COUNTY, Fla. – A Baker County teenager on Friday recounted her terrifying encounter last week with a man accused of forcing his way into a Southside home and raping a woman. 

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, police worked with Baker County deputies to arrest Travis Jakubowski in Monday morning's home invasion and sexual assault at the Countryside Village Mobile Home Park on Beach Boulevard.

Jakubowski, 28, of Ponte Vedra Beach, is charged with armed sexual battery, armed home invasion and false imprisonment.

He was arrested Wednesday night at a San Marco home after a Baker County resident reported that Jakubowski was involved in an incident with a female at a gas station in Sanderson on April 14.

RELATED: Ponte Vedra man charged in home invasion, rape at Southside community

Chrystina Hand, the 17-year-old girl who came face to face with Jakubowski at the gas station, spoke with News4Jax a week after the frightening run-in, saying she knew something wasn't right, so she and her friend alerted adults immediately.

"He pulled in to pump 3 and I pulled in to pump 1, and that's when he walked out and went over to the door," Hand said. "He was talking about how he had a .45 gun and wasn't afraid to use it." 

Hand told deputies that he began to run his hand over a 3-foot machete as he stared at her before he then walked to the rear of his Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck and pulled out a sledgehammer. 

"He pulled out his machete, and wiped it off, and looked at me, and was eyeballing me the entire time while he did it, and laughed about it. (He) then went to the back of his tailgate and pulled orange gloves out of his back pocket and grabbed a sledgehammer out of the back of the truck and held it up and shook the gloves and laughed about that," Hand said. "I was scared that he would try to kill me with it or something, whatever his mind was going through. I don't know what he would be thinking."

Shaken, Hand then went home to tell her mother, who later reported the incident to the Baker County Sheriff's Office.

Two days later, Hand said, the same friend who was with her at the gas station saw Jakubowski while walking down a road. She said her father then got into his truck, drove around and found the man in the woods, but he wasn't able to stall him until officers arrived.

"My dad walked up to his window, and I don't know what he said to him, but I guess (he) noticed my friend that was with my dad, (who) was with me that night," she said. "He put the truck in reverse and got out of there."

Days later, she became even more alarmed when she saw a sketch of the man who police said broke into a home and raped a woman.

"It makes me feel scared because he did this to that woman after he tried to, basically, get me that Friday night," Hand said. "What if he comes back after, after he did that to that woman, knowing he could have been caught that night, here?"

When the media broadcast the composite, Hand's mother then called JSO, telling police that the same man frightened her daughter. Hand's family also pointed police to the wooded area where they saw Jakubowski camped out in his truck Sunday morning. 

Baker County deputies reviewed surveillance video from the gas station incident, which showed a person who matched the description of the suspected rapist and a Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck with Texas plates that matched the vehicle seen on video near Monday's sexual assault.

Jakubowski has since been booked into the Duval County Jail without bond. He has three previous arrests in Duval County, but none for violent offenses.

The teen said she's glad that the suspect is in jail, but she wants others her age to be aware.

"There's a lot of girls that don't pay attention and just try to go out and have fun, not knowing who's around them or watching what's going on," Hand said.